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This month's update features a potpourri of interesting stuff with a number of lines having their theory extended and clarified.

Download PGN of April '11 Flank Openings games

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King's English - Four Knights [A29]

There have been several interesting high level games recently after 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3:

not least of which was Aronian - Giri from the Amber Blindfold. After 4...Nd4 5. Bg2 Nxf3+ 6. Bxf3 Bb4 7. Qb3 Bc5 8.O-O O-O 9. Na4 Be7 Aronian ventured 10. d4 exd4 11.Rd1 after which Giri was the first player to protect the d4 pawn with 11...c5!:

This must surely be the critical response and this game shed some light on the relative chances despite being played without sight of the pieces.

Another interesting encounter was Seirwan - Werle, with Black playing the unusual 4...g6 and after 5. d4 exd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Qe7 10. Bf4 Qb4, Seirawan innovated with 11.Qb3:

It looked like White was slightly better throughout but above all I was impressed with his pawn sacrifice in the endgame with 21.Qd2. Werle should have headed for a draw at this point, but for some reason it looks like he thought his extra pawn should mean something.

Reversed Dragon [A22]

I'm going to give 1.c4 e5 2.g3 as the 'official' move order for Zvjaginsev - Mikhalevsky as it's the most likely way one can reach his original 6.e3. So let's say it started with the moves 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd4 Nxd5 5.Nc3 Nb6 6.e3:

Being a Kan Sicilian aficionado I really like this idea, especially with the Zvjaginsevonion interpretation of White playing for f2-f4 rather than the bog standard (and innocuous) d2-d4. I'd suggest giving it a try before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.

2 g3 Keres System [A20]

In Svidler - Mastrovasilis Black tries 2...Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.d4 e4, but after 5.d5 I'd suggest that he plays 5...Bb4+ rather than 5...cxd5. Mastrovasilis's 7...e3?! looked tempting but was also bad.

Black's play in Kosten - Jones was far more impressive, his 11...Nb4!? being an interesting innovation in a line that doesn't look too dangerous for Black in any case:

What do I suggest for White after 2...c6 3.d4 Bb4+ ? Not much as far as the opening is concerned, it looks rather equal and requires the playing of some chess!

Anti-Grünfeld [A16]

It was nice to see another old-timer in action in Huebner - Kulaots with White's 15.Ng5 looking new in what's probably just a tough and difficult middle game:

White gradually outplayed his opponent though I was surprised by 41.e4. Wouldn't some slow torture via 41.Kf2 have been better?

Réti Opening [A09]

The line 1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 d4 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 e5 5. O-O Nf6 6. d3 Be7 7.b4 which featured in Kramnik - Topalov should no longer surprise anyone at the top:

Kramnik did something a bit different by protecting his e5 knight with 11.f4!?, and when Topalov played the mistaken 18...Rb8?! he got a massive pawn centre which decided the game. The main lesson to be drawn from this game is that it's probably easier to play chess with some pieces in front of you though it was interesting nonetheless.

Larsen's Opening 1.b3 [A01]

Last but not least I found the opening of McShane - Jansa to be rather fascinating with McShane's 5.Nc3!? being an interesting innovation on move FIVE!

This doesn't happen with more regular stuff so those who like to go their own way should take note. Jansa could have played better with 7...Nfd7! but drifted into a poor position and lost horribly in the end. I guess that time trouble also took its toll.

See you next month! Nigel Davies

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